Leeds today: Armley gaol, Merrion Centre, roads, planning, extra-marital affairs, and the Halloween weekend

@mw_obrien with you this morning. I must admit, I’ve been uncharacteristically under the weather this week — but I feel positively tingling at the prospect of the weekend ahead here in Leeds.

Among the headlines in the city this morning is the news that Armley Gaol is set to become the first ever publicly-run prison to be funded on the basis of its re-offending rates.

Meanwhile, councillors in Leeds are set to hear a planning application for a £13 million refurbishment of the Merrion Centre. Said to be the largest mall in Europe when it opened nearly half a century ago, its owners are hoping to bring new shops, restaurants and a revamped car park as part of the redevelopment, complementing the planned opening of the Leeds Arena in 2013.

A stretch of carriageway between Kippax and Allerton Bywater described as the “worst road in Leeds” has been repaired and resurfaced following concerns and complaints from residents.

Campaigners are celebrating as planning permission has been refused by the council for a new McDonald’s restaurant in the car park of the White Bear pub at Tingley roundabout.

And a city centre hotel has been awarded the title of Yorkshire’s top-choice destination for cheating spouses. The survey was conducted by a dating website for married and attached people; a spokesman said the figures suggest, “Yorkshire and the Humber’s cheating spouses prioritise convenience of location and economy over luxury and a romantic setting.” Nothing quite like forbidden love on a budget. (Disclaimer: BGL does not condone extra-marital affairs; we just hope that if you’re going to do it, you do it at one of Leeds’s top locations.)

The pick of the blogs now, and South Leeds Life has this on the new Tenants Hall Enterprise Centre, to be opened in Middleton today by Hilary Benn MP and Councillor Keith Wakefield.

Exploring Leeds looks at how the city’s vast and brooding Town Hall might have looked, with a sketch of an original design ringed by classical columns and topped off with a pyramidal roof over the central hall – a curious design, more a Roman-Egyptian homage than a monument to Victorian pomp and pride. I reckon we made the right choice in the end…

My Life in Leeds carries a tribute to the recently re-opened City Varieties, a “theatrical celebrity” with an incredible past and now an exciting future.

And our Elly has this on a styling event at the Leeds branch of Joy.

Halloween festivities commence across town this weekend. The Culture Vulture has this on Temple Works’s collaborative event with The Midnight Bell pub.

Meanwhile at the Hyde Park Picture House, Candy Strips presents what they describe as “a sumptuous night of Victoriana cabaret for Halloween”, with a burlesque-themed vaudevillian show with a distinct modern edge.

Hyde Park also plays host to a screening of ‘Self-Made’ this Saturday, a film on limited release across the country directed by Gillian Wearing, bringing together several mini-films built upon the experiences of participants on an intensive method-acting course.

If Cornucopia last weekend left your taste buds tingling, then don’t forget it’s that time of the month once again: Kirkstall Abbey Deli Market is back this Saturday afternoon.

And a musical treat all the way from Scandinavia: the Trondheim Soloists are at the Town Hall this weekend with performances of Grieg, Haydn and Tchaikovsky.

That’s all for another week. Whatever you do, don’t forget the clocks go back one hour at 2am on Sunday morning. Which means an extra hour in bed, or an extra hour out on the town depending on your inclination (or of course an extra hour in the hotel room if you’re one of our region’s thrifty lovers).

All the best until next time!

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